Pebbles on the Edge

Pebbles on the Edge
Lake McDonald, 2014

Friday, August 5, 2011

Eilidh's Dilemma

"Libretto", by me (in the collection of Myrna Dow) not a particularly good photo

Okay, so this is going to be depressing to's certainly depressing to write. I apologize in advance. You can stop reading now.

So...I'm going through all of my old artwork, some of it 26-30 years old, most of it, however, executed between 1994 and 2002. I'm sorting and culling and keeping and moving in anticipation of new studio furniture arriving next week. I wonder why I even ordered new furniture. For decoration, I suppose. I won't use it.

Here's the dilemma part, LP version: 

From this distance, I used to be quite good, even while I was teaching.  However, my creativity has vanished and I wonder what happened to it. Gone somewhere, I suppose, in a place hidden from me, perhaps forever. I can't remember how I did anything, much less how I came up with it. I was so full of ideas and passion and I was happiest making things.

I spent six fairly contented years between teaching gigs as an "artist" (I use the term loosely), although it was depressing being so isolated sometimes because eastern Oregon is not an artist's haven. But I did have art friends, did display and sell my things in galleries, did win awards for my paintings, did get into juried exhibitions, did feel good about my growth and progress as a practicing artist, did learn a great deal from the workshops and classes I took.

Somewhere in there, I realized that one of the requirements for continuing this pursuit (imposed from without, in part), was being able to make a living at it, to pull my weight around here, to help provide an income to this household, even though I was never very interested in making money from my work. All I wanted was to do it, to play with stuff--all kinds of stuff, every kind of stuff: paint, ink, clay, metal, film. I love tools and I love art materials and purchased quite a lot of it. But it became too expensive to keep messing about with things. I had to finally support my habit financially (why I do not know). I had to start work for real, like a job. I was a gallery director for about 3 years. I also worked as a picture framer for 4 years. I hated it.

So, after about a year of feeling suicidal, I copped out and went back into teaching in 2003. I do like it sometimes but high school level is exhausting. This year will be my 8th at Stanfield, my 16th altogether, and I feel so empty of any kind of creativity at all. Maybe all I can do is eight years at a time, like some kind of prison sentence.

Whatever...I was someone else back then, and now as I slowly go through my old work and get ready to burn it, I wonder what happened to my blazing ideas and the fire in my head. All I see are ashes. There will be no phoenix rising.

Retirement holds out little hope. The white flame is gone. I've lost the world's delight, and I'm not even dead yet.

Okay, I'm done whining.

(with apologies to Rupert Brooke, via Danny Kirwan: Dust)              


Anonymous said...

sigh. where do i begin? how about, i'm going through the same thing. :/ and there are a lot of us in this boat, as i have been finding out. sharing experiences and ideas has been a huge help, takes a wee bitty of the pressure off. so, if you'd like to chat sometime, please feel free to email. i suspect you're an 'anam cara' and we'd have a lot to share. Lizzy :)

Eilidh said...

Thanks, Lizzy. I get this way, especially when I see the things I used to create and compare it with the dead zone I'm in now. And more-so, when I have to return to the daily grind of teaching at the end of summer. I start back with students on the 22nd. I am not ready. I will email you. Maybe the boat can hold one more. Thank you so much! :)